What is SEO? 10 Essential tips to improving your SEO
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a technique which comprises of many elements, to give a website a higher organic search ranking on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
This usually equates to more traffic for the website, and therefore more sales.
How to improve SEO
We have listed 9 surefire ways to improve your sites SEO, and get yourself ranking well.
1. Quality Content
A website needs to offer value to the user. This usually comes in the form of original content.
There is little value to a website, if it has copied and pasted all of its content from another site – as that counts as duplication, and can work against you if you wish to rank well.
A good strong piece of content (pillar content) – would be an original article which does not get dated quickly, like news does, this type of long lasting content is known as evergreen and can help drive traffic to your site.
Fun Fact: This article you are reading now is evergreen content, and it is an original piece about SEO which offers value in education.
2. Image Optimisation
This is part of your site speed, but such a major aspect, as the size of your images on your website is one of the key influences on your sites health, that we gave it its own section. It is best practice to reduce the size of images prior to upload. This can be done by only using PNG if you need the image to have transparency (alpha channel), otherwise use JPG, or even better WebP.
Image file sizes should be no more than 100-200 KB (that’s on the heavy end of the spectrum). There are many other factors, including colour palette limitation and various forms of compression (ie lossy) which you could try tweaking to reduce the size of the image.
Alternatively, if you are not a whizz at photoshop, or have a backlog of images to optimise, or expect to be uploading many images later on, you could try an automated image compression software. We highly recommend ShortPixel, due to its ease of use, FREE plan, and budget friendly premium plans. The pictures you see on this site are being served by Short-pixel and have have increased our site speed dramatically.
ShortPixel will not only reduce all the images on your website in size without any loss to quality, but it also creates backups, automatically reduces images sizes as they are uploaded, and as an option serves WebP formats of the images for even faster results.
3. Site Loading Speed
No one likes a slow site.
Any site which takes longer than 2 seconds to load, is viewed as slow by Google.
20% of users drop off for each additional second past that key 2 second mark – so if your site takes 7 seconds to load – don’t be expecting any good traffic results next time you check your analytics.
Website speed can be checked for free here: https://tools.pingdom.com
Various methods can be used to speed up the website –
- Compressing imaged or serving WebP formats.
- Combining CSS / JS / HTML files.
- Lazy loading media.
- The use of a CDN (content delivery network – such as cloud-flare.
- Keeping programs/plugins updated
4. Document Object Model
The DOM (Document Object Model) is the structure of the page. The HTML. All elements on a website adhere to certain criteria to be displayed, and this comes in the form of an inverted tree.
ie HTML> BODY > P (paragraphs) > UI (unordered lists) > li (lists).
The structure of the DOM is usually accounted for if using a webpage builder like WordPress but is vitals to keep in mind if free hand coding.
For optimal ranking, a page should consist of 600 + words.
Fun Fact: Each page should have only one H1 Tag (title) – see meta data for more information.
Keywords can make or break a sites success.
It is important that you only use keywords pertaining to the subject matter of the page.
These keywords should be located in:
a) The title
c) The content copy
Keyword research is advised, to find the balance between competitive keywords vs volume of searches.
A handy tool for viewing these statistics is to create a Google Ads account – and use their keyword finder tool
6. Meta Data
Meta Data is a flashy way of saying object descriptions. Ie, Adding Meta Data to an image would consist of giving it a title, caption, and most importantly an alt tag.
Alt tags should consists of keywords, related to what the image is about. This allows the image itself to be indexable, thus allowing and way for people to come across your site – through image searches.
Additional Meta Data could come in the form of page descriptions – a unique description about the page the user is seeing. This description should be around 155 characters long – and contain 2-3 keywords relating to the page.
7. Backlinks & Domain Authority
Backlinks are the amount of other websites pointing back to yours. The more websites linking to yours, shows that your site must offer value – though it is important that these backlinks are of high quality or can actually have a negative effect on your SEO.
Many black-hat SEO firms, who promise “1st page on google” yet often don’t deliver, work by linking many spammy low quality sites to yous, thus increasing your backlinks – this may work in the short term, but it is likely you will be penalised once caught out – which can be detrimental to companies as they will no longer be listed in any search results.
With good backlinks, and time – your DA (Domain Authority) will increase, thus giving your website more credence in the eyes of search engines.
8. Responsive Website
With the use of mobile devices and tablets of all shapes and sixes now being used to surf the web, it is vital that your website can contort, re-shuffle and flex to fit these different sizes, while still retaining optimal user experience. This can be done by building the site using % or View port height/width, rather than pixels – giving it a much more flexible DOM.
For this to happen you may need to design multiple navigation menus to display depending on screen size – ie, there is no value in having a long navigation with 10 menu items side by side, if they wont fit on a mobile screen or are too small to press.
If a website is not mobile responsive, it will given a lower rank in the SERP.
You can check if your site is mobile responsive using Google’s free mobile friendly tool.
It is important that your site is allowing itself to be indexable – if a site is undergoing maintenance or construction, there is a chance that your robot.txt is asking not to be indexed.
I have had clients come to me, stating they are getting no traffic, and it turns out to be due to the developer from another company had not edited the robot.txt to allow it to be indexed. A rookie mistake. If you are not able to scan your site – try checking the robot.txt.
As the title says, a site map is simply a map of your site, in an XML format. This sitemap is like a tree, showing search engines the layout of your site, allowing for more optimal indexing.
You can upload you sitemap to google console to make sure it has the latest version.
Some SEO programs, such as RankMath and Yoast, automatically create your sitemap for you, and keep it updated and posted to google, so you don’t need to worry about keeping it updated with every change.